Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year, New Neighborhood

I can't believe that we've been renting a house in this North Las Vegas neighborhood for four months already. The friends that we've made have become very dear to us. But, we are moving this Friday because we have decided that this is probably the best time to buy a home in this market. Please keep us in your prayers because this is already a very busy week leading up to our first Sunday service of worship at the local middle school. I'll have pictures to share after the weekend.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Blizzard...and some More Good News

The wind blew; the palm trees were bent by the force. Clouds rolled over the top of our tiny neighborhood with the threat of a major winter storm. And did it ever storm!

A few hours later I was able to get outside and capture this scene in the aftermath. As you can see we received at least six inches of snow, with a two foot snow drift.

Last evening my oldest son and I rode along with one of our neighbors and his three children up to a place called Lee Canyon. It's only about a thirty minute drive from the house. There we found a virtual winter wonder land and thought we'd bring some back for the kids to wake up and see.

This has been the scene this morning as children from around the neighborhood are climbing the 15 foot hill and abandoning all caution as they roar down the hill at speeds reaching 3 mph.

We have so much to be thankful for. This year we are especially thankful for the relationships that our Lord has given us with our neighbors in just a few short months.


Last week we were able to confirm our arrangements with a local middle school to use their facilities for Sunday morning services of worship. God has worked to give us a great relationship with the staff at the school. They have invited us to come on Wednesday afternoons for a couple of hours to volunteer some time in order to help beautify the campus. Please pray that our service will point to the Savior.

The theatre where we'll be gathering seats 104 people and the drama teacher at the school offered to allow us use of their sound equipment. This means that we don't have chairs or audio equipment to haul around! We will also be using another adjacent room for nursery care and one more for a morning lesson for our 4 - 7 year-old group.

God continues to introduce us to people that he is bringing into the kingdom and into his service as a part of the City-Wide Redeemer church family. We praise him for the opportunity to sit in the front row, as it were, of his activity in this place.


Today my father-in-law was able to return home for the first time since his motorcycle accident. He proclaimed today, "This is the best Christmas ever because I'm alive." It's the best Christmas ever for us too as we thank our Lord for his mercy in the life of this man so many of us hold so dear. He told me last week that he has continued thanks for those who prayed for him during his recovery. Today is just a short visit home. He may be at home to stay by the end of the week. Please continue to keep him in your prayers.

Merry Christmas from North Las Vegas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Good News for All People

Today in our service of worship we took up the text in Luke where an angel of the Lord, and then a multitude of angels appear to some shepherds just outside of Bethlehem. There the Glory of the Lord shone around the angels. Yes, the Glory of the Lord!

As I recline in my soft office chair just hours after preaching this text different realities of life are crowding for attention in my mind. I'm mindful of people I know who are suffering because of physical ailment. I know others who have lost children to the grave in past years right around Christmas and are struggling with grief yet again. I'm thinking about the people who are working downtown just a few miles south of here in strip clubs, catering to the influx of visitors to Vegas during this time of year--all people conflicted about where help can come from, confused about their own value before God, and some struggling to remember that God is making all things right. It is to us, to them, to all people that the good news comes. In the City of David a Savior is born, who is Christ the Lord.

Each day I become more aware of my own need for a Savior, and my heart continually grows with gratitude and relief over the fact that God interrupted my dead-end lifestyle and announced good news. God is with his people; God is making peace with men and women, God is accessible to his people because of the person and work of Jesus. I'll be thinking about the wonder of that truth for an eternity.

I've got some other great news to share, but felt the need to ponder God's good news for today. I'll share the other news tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Looking Back at Worship

We weren't able to get the video update that I promised. I'm sorry. Here's the written update:

What a great day we had together! I can't believe that we are now talking about our first service of worship in the past tense. Yesterday marked the first Sunday morning service of worship for City-Wide Redeemer in North Las Vegas. After worship we invited everyone to stick around for some of Angie's chili and the necessary sides, and most were able to stay for an hour or so.

We had a tremendous sense of God's presence. Several people commented on the different ways that our Savior led them and met them in worship. As a pastor this is such an encouragement. I have nothing to say that can make any lasting impact in the lives of people. But God does speak life and change that is lasting, and he did as we heard and spoke his word together.

Our home will be our place of worship for two more weeks and we should be able to squeeze in since a few of our families will be out of town for Christmas travel. We were praying all week that the sounds from the nursery and the children's lesson upstairs wouldn't overcome our service downstairs. God answered that prayer. He even brought an extra helper to join our 3-5 year-old group as they numbered twice what we anticipated.

God is growing his church. We have a sense that he is continually before us as he draws his people to himself and to each other in this local church. We already feel as though we are just hanging on for the ride.

Some of you might feel as though the need for continued prayer is lessening now that we are meeting for Sunday morning worship. Please don't stop praying. Several folks at City-Wide are new in the faith and will undoubtedly experience much opposition from the evil one. Pray that all of us will continue to grow in our faith, hope and love. Pray that everyone will readily find their place of service within the body and come quickly to a place of being able to come along others as God continues to bring new people into the body. Pray that our transition into the local middle school in early January goes well. Please also pray for our relationship with the school. We hope to serve the school by providing some janitorial help once each week. Pray that we will serve well. Pray that the many children of City-wide Redeemer will grow in their understanding of God's work in Christ Jesus.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of God's work in Las Vegas.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rehearsal Day (for the kids)

Today is the day that the people of City-Wide Redeemer will gather together for worship on the Lord's day. One of the things for which we have prayed is that our children might be glad for what God is doing. For these initial three weeks their house will be wide open to all kinds of people, some of whom they have yet to meet. Their toys have become nursery toys. Their favorite furniture in the living room has been moved out to the garage to make room for this worship gathering. Their beds have been moved to make more room up stairs.

The picture that I've included is evidence of God's gracious work in their hearts. Our two youngest took time yesterday morning to have a rehearsal of sorts. They set out some chairs and went to their stuffed animal closet to do the work of little evangelists. God brought five people to their first service of worship. We were delighted to see how multi-cultural this first service turned out to be! As I write this post we are only two hours away from beginning. Please pray for us today. Pray that God's word will have its way in the hearts of his people!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Only Three more Days

With three days until City-Wide Redeemer gathers together for the first time on a Sunday morning I have lots on my mind. Are the nursery details in order? Do we have enough chairs? Will everyone be able to park in the allocated spaces? What will the powers of darkness try to throw at us that we haven't already thought to worry about?

I just read an incredibly encouraging truth in the book of Hebrews. Jesus, crowned with glory and honor as the Son of God (Kingly language) is not ashamed to call us brothers (and sisters), saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise."

Regardless of how nursery care goes and how much noise the children make, regardless of who is sitting on a chair or on the floor, regardless of where everybody parks and whatever else might challenge our being together Jesus has promised to be in our midst both receiving praise and leading us in our praise. Jesus will be with us, Emmanuel.

We are also glad to have learned this week that our invitation to use a local middle school theatre for a few months is all but final. God has given a good relationship with the administration there. For that we give thanks. We are just waiting for the school district's loss prevention office to verify that we have the proper insurance coverages.

I hope to share a video update and a few pictures after this weekend. Thank you for your prayers.

Friday, December 7, 2007

An Update on Angie's Father

We just returned from the hospital where Angie's dad is recovering from his late night surgery last eventing. Doctors were able to insert two rods into his leg and his punctured lung continues to heal. Nurses were teasing him this morning, telling him, "Now when you wake up in the morning feeling sore and tired you really can say, 'I' feel like I've been hit by a bus.'"

What a grace it is to have these moments of laughter just hours after we were faced with a mountain of fears when the news first came that Angie's father had been struck while riding his motorcycle. It was so great to see him today. We rejoice at God's kindness through this difficulty. When I told him that so many of you have written and/or called to express your concern and continued commitment to prayer he asked me to write on his behalf to say, "Thank you." Thank you indeed!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Unexpectedly off to Phoenix

About two hours ago we received the dreadful news that Angie's dad was hit by a school bus while he rode home from work on this motorcycle. We are all very shaken, but thankful to hear from Angie's mom that he is in stable condition ahead of some needed surgery later tonight after they re-inflate his partially collapsed lung. He has broken ribs, a badly injured nose and a badly broken leg. He is surely hurting.

We've made the rounds to our neighbors to cancel the neighborhood Christmas party open house that was scheduled for tomorrow evening. We have hurriedly packed and we are leaving as soon as I turn off the computer.

You may read this a few days after I am writing this post, but your prayers will still mean much, answered by our all-wise and loving King in his time and according to his gracious will. Please pray that our presence will be an encouragement to the whole family, and that our words will be well-measured with the love of Christ our Savior.

We are hurting and shaken. Our God is bigger than our hurting and shaking. He is our safety.

We'll update you soon. Thanks for you prayers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Joy and Pain....Sunshine and Rain


We have a treasure in clay jars.

Several of our neighbors just left and walked back to their homes after our small group meeting tonight. We spoke about brokenness. It was a tremendous delight for me to listen to different interactions during our study and to hear my new friends expressing in their own words their growing joy and confidence in Jesus. The gospel is at work in their lives, and in mine, and doing its work--making all things new.

It may seem silly to you, but the up-front seating that I have with several people right now has caused me to be freshly overwhelmed with the place that God gives his people in the story. We have been entrusted with God's message and means to turn the world upside down--or more truly to turn the world right side back again. God is redeeming his world and being part of the cast is a tremendous privilege.

City-Wide Redeemer has another community/small group that is starting up this Friday. Please pray that those God brings will quickly gel together, beginning to trust, learn from, and serve one another in due time.


We'll be moving from our rental house in early January into the house that we've purchased. We remain sure that God has opened this door, providing a great home in a central location at an astoundingly low price. On one hand it is a great sign of the end of transition. We've been moving since May. But we are experiencing sorrow at the prospect of leaving the neighborhood we've called home since early September. In just three months we have grown to sincerely love our neighbors.

To be frank, I feel pretty torn up inside. Our children will lose daily contact with yet another set of friends, and so will we. Of course, we plan on being in this neighborhood weekly to be a part of this growing community group, but we won't be privileged to the serendipitous encounters with our neighbors or their children. Please pray for God's will to be done, and that if we should stay that he would make that abundantly clear.

Joy and Pain...Sunshine and Rain

Me and Angie

Me and Angie
December 2010